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|January 21, 2000||
T T Vasu salutes a titan's memory
I used to meet M A Chidambaram quite often in my younger days when he came to see my father (former finance minister of India, the late T T Krishnamachari or 'TTK'). He was always very affectionate to me. We affectionately called him Mac.
The most admirable thing about Mac was that he contributed a lot to not one but several fields. His contribution to the industrial growth of Tamil Nadu is immense, so is his role in popularising cricket and tennis. But his greatest creation may well be the Voluntary Health Service.
I was very fortunate to have known him from close quarters. Whenever I met with him, he had only nice things to say about the Music Academy that we had started.
He was a connoisseur of art. Even though he started the Tamil Isai Sangam to promote music in Tamil, he used to come to the Music Academy every December to listen to some concerts.
Mac was a friend of my father. Whether he openly suggested anything to him when he (TTK) was the finance minister, I do not know. He had great regard for my father and used to be a frequent visitor before my father became the minister. It didn't make any difference to Mac whether my father was a minister or not. He was quite frank in his discussions. Whether it had an impact or not on their friendship, I do not know. (After my father became a minister, I never used to take part in their meetings.)
After my father passed away, Mac continued to keep in touch with our family. He used to attend our family functions. It is a pity that he was not in the best of health in the evening of his life. He hardly attended any social functions.
I cherish that a great man like Mac made it a point to know me. I won't say he became a friend because for him I was my father's son. He was a very nice and friendly man, always kind to everyone.
He was the first one to start an industry of the magnitude of SPIC in Tamil Nadu. I feel not many know that he first started a scooter factory in Bombay. SPIC happened later.
He was very active in the Southern India Chamber of Commerce. He influenced many industrialists to come forward and launch big ventures in Tamil Nadu. He also had a very friendly relationship with Panditji (Jawaharlal Nehru), Indira Gandhi and all the successive chief ministers of Tamil Nadu.
Nehru's socialism was put into practice by my father and he had the most difficult job of raising funds through taxes, etc. Remember, Rajaji used to call it the Licence Raj!?
Did Mac support the system? I never discussed politics or economics with Mac. We used to talk only about music and art. And whenever we met outside India, he used to introduce me to others as a young entrepreneur.
The TTK group is primarily into the consumer products distribution and the MAC group is into heavy industries. Our areas of operation are different. So, I won't say I was influenced by Mac the industrialist.
But I feel his contribution to the society through the Voluntary Health Service will always be remembered. It is really great of him to start something for the underprivileged.
T T Vasu, director of the TTK group, spoke to Shobha Warrier
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